Political strategists and pundits agree that the Hispanic vote represents a lost opportunity for the Romney campaign. Romney’s continued hedging and dodging on the issue of immigration did nothing to endear him to Spanish-speaking voters. But Obama has also been criticized for not doing more; in fact, at a forum sponsored by Univision in September, the president admitted that he saw not passing immigration reform as the biggest failure of his first term. Come Obama 2.0, the immigration question is sure to be front and center. Republican legislators have historically held a hard line against immigration, but are things changing on the Hill?
Several conservatives have said publicly that the GOP needs to revise its approach in order to stay relevant to America’s fastest-growing voter demographic, and if it has any hope of courting that vote in 2016. Prominent Republicans such as Florida’s Senator Marco Rubio, have stepped closer to the center, advocating some sort of path to legal status, if not full citizenship. But most remain staunchly on one side of that fence – and in favor of building even more. Those who have leaned towards the progressive view in the past, such as Senators John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, have largely backed off on the issue for fear of losing the support of their more conservative colleagues.
Is it time for the GOP to change its tune on immigration? What will it take to earn the support of Latino and other minority voters? How can Obama bridge the immigration gap in a deeply divided congress? Has this nation of immigrants reached capacity, or can we still welcome new citizens to our shores?
Tim Donnelly, Republican State Assemblyman for California’s 59th District, which includes San Bernardino and San Dimas
Ana Navarro, Republican strategist and CNN contributor, formerly national co-chair of John McCain’s Hispanic Advisory Council and Director of Immigration Policy for Florida Governor Jeb Bush